Donald Trump, the colourful real estate tycoon and TV host who made the line “You’re fired” famous the world over, wants Americans to hire him for the top job in the Oval Office.
He has long teased a run, but pulled back providing fresh fodder to late night comedians every time — even President Barack Obama has taken a few swipes at him.
“All of my life, I have heard, a truly successful person, a really successful person, and even a modestly successful person, cannot run for public office, just can’t happen,” Trump said.
“Yet that’s the kind of mindset you need to make this country great again. “So, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again,” he announced Tuesday at a news conference inside Trump Tower, a Manhattan high-rise developed, owned by him and named after him.
Trump joins 11 others vying for the Republican ticket, coming right after Jeb Bush , who announced his candidature on Monday.
The host of TV show The Apprentice is immensely wealthy — $9 billion, he has claimed — and has a name recall that will get him noticed in a crowded field.
"I'm not doing that to brag," Trump said, waving a piece of paper with details of his fortune. "I'm doing that to say that's the kind of thinking our country needs. We need that thinking. We have the opposite thinking. We have losers," he said.
"We have people who are morally corrupt. We have people who are selling our country down the drain."
In his colorful address, Trump vowed to rebuild ailing infrastructure, create jobs and take care of veterans.
"Our country is in serious trouble. We don't have victories anymore," he said.
Trump said unemployment has risen sky high in the United States, even past 20 percent, challenging government figures that put it at under 6%.
"Don't believe the 5.6%. Don't believe it," Trump said, adding that China and Mexico had stolen American jobs.
"When was the last time anyone saw us beating, let's say, China in a trade deal. They kill us. I beat China all the time."
"When did we beat Japan at anything? They send their cars over by the millions and what do we do?" he said as his family looked on and some in the crowd broke into chants of "we want Trump."
"Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger by the day, and we as a country are getting weaker. Even our nuclear arsenal doesn't work," he said.
Trump is already figuring in the top 10 Republican candidates in polls. That, incidentally will get him into primary debates — curtailed to the top 10 candidates.
He has also built a formidable political organisation, staffing up the early primary states and has travelled there often demonstrating his readiness to go all the way this time. “I’m the most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far,” he told The Des Moines Register, the leading news publication of Iowa, the state that hosts the first primary.
But not all conservatives are excited about his candidacy. Some of them don’t take him seriously, and doubt if he takes the run seriously himself, or the party. “He’s an expert, professional entertainer,” said Chris Bedford, senior editor at conservative news publication The Daily Caller. “The GOP is his circus ring.”
“He has no respect for anyone but himself. And he is only running because no one will take his game seriously this time otherwise.”
Trump became popular with the Republican party base as a leading “birther” — those who believe Obama was not born in America and, therefore, shouldn’t be president.
(With inputs from AFP)